Along with major reforms the House proposed in its budget, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) has also released their budget.
The group is a caucus of conservatives in the House of Representatives. They have proposed the most conservative budget of the three (White House and House Budget Committee). Their budget offers the deepest levels of cuts to control federal spending.
The Republican Study Committee had this to say of their budget proposal:
“The RSC budget aims to go well beyond the least common denominator of politics to reflect the American people’s desire to see a more responsible and accountable government. As with any proposal that dares to suggest what ought to be done, rather than just what is easy to do, this budget will inevitably be attacked as too conservative, too bold, too sudden, or too difficult to achieve. However, the measure of success for ideas is not their ease, but their persistence and effectiveness.”
Below are some of the proposals from this budget that may be of most interest to federal employees.
Pension Plan Changes
- A High-5 calculation would be used instead of High-3 for retirement benefits.
- The Special Retirement Supplement would be eliminated.
- All federal employees, not just future ones, would contribute more towards their retirement programs. This is to match what was mandated under the Middle-Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. This law requires new federal employees to contribute to their retirement.
One reason for these changes is to bring federal employee benefits more in line with those in the private sector. “Under FERS, federal employees hired before 2013, contribute only 0.8 percent of their pay, while the taxpayers contribute 11.7 percent of employees’ salaries. A recent CBO report found that, on average, federal civilian employees receive 47 percent more in benefits than the comparable average private-sector employee,” the RCS budget said.
Decrease Annual Across-the-Board Adjustment for Federal Employee Pay
The budget states, “Unlike most Americans, federal employees receive an automatic pay increase every year under the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act of 1990.” Because of this, it recommends that beginning in FY2018, the annual across-the-board increase for federal employees should be reduced by ½ a percentage point below the expected automatic increases.
Make Federal Employees “At-Will” Employees
The Republican Study Committee recommends adopting Congressman Todd Rokita’s legislation and make federal workers “at-will” employees.
Adopt Premium Support for Federal Employee Health Care
The budget states federal employees pay about 30 percent of their FEHB premiums and the government pays the rest. “Because this ratio does not change with the higher priced coverage options, federal workers have the incentive to choose the more expensive plans on the taxpayers’ dime.”
Consequently, it recommends moving to a premium support system where the government would offer a standard contribution towards the purchase of health insurance and employees would be responsible for paying the rest. They hope this encourages employees to purchase more modest health care plans with an appropriate amount of coverage.
Using the Holman Rule to Eliminate Unnecessary Positions
The Holman Rule was initially used in the 1800’s to cut government spending. It gave the House Committee on Appropriations authorization to cut back on spending. They did this by reducing the number of federal employees cutting the salary of federal officials. It was also a quick way to reduce the compensation of any person paid out of Treasury funds.
The budget proposal says the following with regards to the Holman Rule:
“If used correctly, the Holman Rule could be a powerful tool for conservatives in the House of Representatives to work with the Trump administration to reshape the federal bureaucracy so that it’s more accountable and responsive to the American people. The President and federal agencies should work cooperatively with the House to identify executive branch positions that are unneeded and the appropriations bills considered by the House should include Holman positions to restrict, limit, and eliminate these positions.”
Eliminate the Use of Official Time
The RSC budget proposal recommends adopting Congressman Jody Hice’s (R-GA) bill, The Official Time Reform Act, to stop “the federal governments sanction of union activity at federal expense” thereby making “federal workforce more effective and efficient”.
Prohibit Automatic Collection of Union Dues for Federal Employee Unions
The budget states the following regarding dues for federal employee unions:
“Currently, the federal government acts as the dues collector for unionized federal workers by deducting union dues from an employees’ paycheck and then remitting dues to the union. If a worker wants to join a union, then the union should collect its dues from the worker, not force the taxpayers to do it. This budget recommends prohibiting the automatic deduction of union dues for federal employees.”
Reduce Workforce Size Through Attrition
Under this proposal, new hires would be limited to one employee for every three who leave the federal workforce. However, the President would have the flexibility to adjust federal employment in case of a national emergency.
*It’s important to note that this is just a proposal, like others mentioned above. Any changes in legislation must be enacted by Congress. Often, bills are altered as they are debated, and may never become a law.